Sunday, September 06, 2009

On writing......

Nearly finished with the holidays, but still cracking on with the review shelf. Tonight I managed two reviews, one of which had been haunting me for months - sitting there on the review shelf and intimidating me with it's presence. And the sheer physical joy of actually finishing the review is something I can barely communicate.

There was a point tonight where I sat back in my chair, read over what I'd done and suddenly realised it was finished. Complete. 90% done. (90% done for me is effectively the second to final draft - all it needs at that point is pictures adding, a final read through and final checking - but at 90% all of the real work is done.) And the smile that hit my face at that point was practically beautific.

That's the thing I find about writing. The actual process of writing anything is painful. Hard work. Mentally draining. God knows why I do it. But when the thing I'm writing is done and I'm satisfied with it - that's when I realise that I love to write.

And then I came across this blog post by Stephen Fry;
"It took my friend Douglas Adams to encourage me to go further and he did this by pointing out that the reason I had never managed to finish a novel was that I had never properly understood how difficult, how ragingly and absurdly difficult, it is to do. “It is almost impossibly hard,” he told me. It is supposed to be. But once you truly understand how difficult it is,” he added, with signature paradoxicality, “it all becomes a lot easier.”

It was many years later that Clive James quoted to me Thomas Mann’s superb crystallisation of this “A writer,” said Mann, “is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.” How liberating that definition is. If any of you out there have ever been put off writing it might well be because you found it so insanely hard and therefore, like me, gave up and abandoned your masterworks early, regretfully assuming that you weren’t cut from the right cloth, that it must come more easily to true, natural-born writers. Perhaps you can start again now, in the knowledge that since the whole experience was so grindingly horrible you might be the real thing after all."

The important thing, the thing I read and immediately thought "YES" to was the Thomas Mannn quote: “A writer, is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.”

And then I think - God, maybe I'm a writer after all. And I smile. Content in the work i've done and ready for the work I know I have to do tomorrow. It will be horrible, painful stuff. But if I'm very lucky, tomorrow night I'll sit back in the chair and the absolute satisfaction of having written something I'm proud of will wash over me and I'll go to my bed happy, ready to go back to work with a smile. And I'll do it again and again and again because maybe, just maybe, I'm on my way to being a writer.

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